Liverpool secured a narrow 0-1 win over Sunderland which helped the side move up to the seventh position, level on points with Manchester United and a point off fifth placed Crystal Palace.
The home loss for Sunderland meant their position went from bad to worse as they remained rooted in the relegation zone. Big Sam needs to do better in 2016 to ensure the Black Cats stay in the top division.
Here are three things we learned from the game, as far as Liverpool are concerned.
Benteke scores, but still raises questions
Christian Benteke loves scoring against Sunderland and added to his tally by scoring a quick second half goal for the Reds. He now has six games against Sunderland. However, it seemed quite apparent throughout the game that he was struggling in a number of departments. His hold-up play wasn’t too great and he wasn’t able to link up with his fellow attackers. After scoring, he did improve vastly and his confidence visibly shot up. But his overall game still raises doubts. His runs and movements along with the positions he was taking up were all frustrating Klopp. When a forward is struggling with other areas of the game but manages to score, it isn’t that much of a problem and the Belgian has two goals in two games. However, he has also missed two sitters (in both the games), in an identical manner where he only had one opponent to beat. Both were great opportunities to kill the game and the former Villa man couldn’t take them. Liverpool need more goals as they also have to work on their goal difference. 1-0 wins obviously give the same number of points as a 5-0 thrashing, but goals are precious.
Roberto Firmino continues to be bizarrely labelled as “flop”
The Brazilian was brought in for a hefty sum and the fact that he doesn’t have positive statistics to go with that sum has led to people labelling him as a flop. Firmino came close on three occasions, once hitting the crossbar from an effort outside the box but was unable to find the end product. At the same time, he was very lively, moved into good positions and his work rate was impressive. He has excellent movement off the ball, contributes defensively and possess a good link-up play. Continuously calling him a flop because of the £29m tag, is feeding the wrong kind of narrative. The Brazilian has already shown the Kop faithful what he is capable of. He quite clearly needs more and regular game-time and goals will soon follow.
Liverpool’s end product badly letting them down
The problem with Liverpool earlier this year was the lack of chances being created. That seems to have been remedied over time but the lack of end product is killing them at the moment. Like mentioned before, Benteke and Firmino should be scoring from the chances they had and a 0-1 win over a relegation scrapped side is not overly impressive. Philippe Coutinho needs to be doing more than simply trying the same sort of shot from outside of the box in every game. In fact, the Brazilian was massively underwhelming against the Black Cats. When you have three attacking midfielders and a powerful centre forward, you’d think getting goals shouldn’t be that much of a struggle. For some reason, it is for the Reds. In the first half, Liverpool were very frustrating in the final third, and after the quick second half goal, it was again very frustrating for the Merseysiders.
Liverpool only have one real goalscorer and he is constantly injured. The England international has deemed himself fit but Klopp knows better than to rush him. With the next game only two days away, perhaps the German boss will be tempted to use Sturridge who might be able to help the side with the goalscoring conundrum.